Documenting the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, 2021
Dr Scott Kuhns sent me aerials he took from the St Lucie Inlet this morning, July 28, 2021, at 10am from 2500 feet. Although due to rain there is local basin runoff and C-23/24 dumping into the St Lucie River, there is not Lake Okeechobee discharge mostly due to the presence of algae. So we have been fortunate and our waters have been looking great. So blue! Beechcraft Baron
The second batch of photos I already shared on Facebook. My husband Ed took these photos Saturday, July 24, 2021, from about 1500 feet. Seagrass is budding back! One sees the darker colored runoff water inside the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, but again, there is no Lake Okeechobee water thus still blue out over the nearshore reefs and closer to the St Lucie Inlet/Atlantic Ocean. Last, I will share Ed’s aerials inland of Lake Okeechobee taken on July 24, 2021 as well. The lake aerials show algae along the shoreline, but not so much further out. We must heal all our waters including this lake!
Hopefully there will not be a hurricane this season, and the waters of the St Lucie can continue to recover from previous long-lasting Lake Okeechobee discharges. In any case, Scott, Ed, and I will continue to document.
Thank you pilots!
In closing, I must admit that for my whole life, my favorite color has been green, but I love when it’s blue!
Learn all you need to know on my brother Todd’s website eyeonlakeo Click on image to see Lake O and C-44 discharges so far in 2021.
As I continue my now popular retrospective series “Keeping Alive the Power of the Pubic Voice,” the next St Lucie River rally documented in my LOST SUMMER photo archives is dated August 20, 2013 –Ten days after the Beach Rally and and seventeen days after the first Rally at the Locks.
This was the infamous “riverlution” rally at the the St Lucie Locks and Dam when Governor Rick Scott visited. Just days prior to this, TCPalm put out their STOP KILLING OUR LAGOON issue. These were indeed incredible times! Below is an excerpt I saved from WPTV reporter Jeff Skrzpek, and some of my archived photos. Many people you’ll see in the photographs continue today to work for a better St Lucie River and Everglades LOSOM system.
The St Lucie “Lost Summer” led to significant changes to Florida water policy as we shall we in upcoming post. The recent wave started in Martin County and continues to crash ashore today.
Excerpt, August 20, 2013 – WPTV
STUART, Fla. — – “Hundreds lined the road, armed with signs and chanted loudly as Governor Rick Scott zoomed by more than 300 protesters on his way to tour the St. Lucie Lock.
“Save our river!” screamed the crowd as the hot sun beamed down sweaty backs.
After arriving, Governor Scott was rushed into fenced area, topped with barbed wire fencing, walking away from the crowd without acknowledging any of the concerned residents. The chants turned from being loud to all out anger…”
-Jeff Skrzypek, WPTV
Below” screen shot of TCPalm’s STOP KILLING OUR LAGOON SERIES. Note Eve Samples! I see Larry Reisman and I think that’s Ed Killer in the back. It is hard for me to see and recognize the others with my now “old eyes.” 🙂
I’ve had so many calls and reactions to my recent post “Keeping Alive the Power of the Public Voice,” that I’m going to keep sharing my photo archives of the “Riverlution.” Yes, today’s modern Florida water advocacy all started here in Martin County.
This next set of archived photos is dated August 10, 2013, Lost Summer (only seven days after the Rally at the Locks,) and labeled “Beach Rally for the River.” Photos reveal a large crowd at Stuart Beach and aerials of a black coffee/green algae St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. Terrible!
For me, one of the all time most inspirational photos is in this collection. I am displaying it as the first one. It shows a little boy raising his arms in glee towards the sky as Ed’s original River Warrior -the yellow Cub- plane passes overhead and the flag flies! Save Our River! We are working not just for ourselves but for the future. Please keep the power of the public voice alive for all our Everglades’ rivers during the optimization of LOSOM. The voice of the people must direct policy and we must continue to lead the way!
(Email to comment: LakeOComments@usace.army.mil)
Beach Rally for the River, August 10, 2013, Stuart, Florida (Thurlow archives)
As we move into the LOSOM optimization process, let’s recall the power of the public voice that started this St Lucie “riverlution” in 2013. Today in 2021, the River Kidz have all grown up, we have all gotten older, and a slew of new advocates are involved. But as was clear at yesterday’s Rivers Coalition meeting, the movement is still going strong. It got me looking through my photo archives. Amazing! I wanted to share. Let’s all keep alive the power of the public voice for all our rivers – it started here.
TCPALM “Something remarkable happened on the Treasure Coast in 2013. Was it a short-lived phenomenon or the beginning of a sustained movement?”
The beginning of a sustained movement for sure!
~Photos from RALLY AT THE LOCKS, August 3, 2013. Over 5000 people attended having seen surfer Evan Miller’s Facebook post call to action due to the “Lost Summer.”
Today, for documentation purposes, and for those who may not have been able to view, I share the LOSOM presentation slides of the Army Corp of Engineers from yesterday, 7-19-21. This presentation presents their preliminary preferred alternative, CC in twelve slides.
LOSOM is a component of the Central & Southern Florida System Operating Plan and stands for LAKE OKEECHOBEE SYSTEM OPERATION MANUAL. This manual will update Lake Okeechobee operations including discharge amounts and timing to the estuaries.
When Ed told me he was going to take the Maverick out this morning, I decided it was a good time for me to document the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual. This very technical process has been well reported but remains difficult to understand. Today, I will share a few slides from a recent South Florida Water Management District Meeting on the subject for those who may wish to catch up and for purposes of documentation.
Tomorrow, July 19, 2021, at 1:30 pm the Army Corp of Engineers will announce what they call their “preferred plan” for a new lake schedule referred to as LOSOM. This is very exciting yet stressful, and numerous people have been working on this for years. Even with the announcement, the new lake schedule will not be implemented until 2023 as this slide from SFWMD’s Jennifer Reynold’s displays.
Although many are talking about “enhanced” plans, the Army Corp will be choosing one published plan to begin their “balancing process.” You can view an overview of the plans below. Different stakeholders like different plans depending on their positions. The St Lucie stakeholders have rallied around Plan CC “with enhancements.” At the most recent SFWMD governing board meeting another plan based on CC, entitled S.R. 3.5 was used as an example of how to “optimize” the CC plan. You can watch the meeting here to see the presentations and discussions.
In the end, there was discussion about the 3.5 model (positive and negative) but board members supported the policy considerations and “direction” the SFWMD was headed. Please watch the meeting video above for specific comments. (Only 8 hours!) For tomorrow, the main thing is to keep one’s eyes on the above charts, as those are the charts the Army Corp will be referring to to chose a “preferred plan” as the process for “balance”‘ continues. The Army Corps next step after choosing a preferred plan is to travel around for a “listening tour.” So be sure to look for announcements of their visit to your area.
Back to the slides!
Here are the SFWMD governing board policy considerations building upon Alternative CC. Note algae blooms are now a consideration.
Both Governor DeSantis and the SFWMD put forth statements earlier in the year for the goals of LOSOM. All were big shift in favor of the environment.
As this contentious process continues, we must recognize how much progress has been made for the estuaries. Never before have the estuaries had such a central seat at the table. This will certainly translate into improvements!
Thank you to the Army Corp of Engineers for this remarkable LOSOM NEPA environmental process. I look forward to your decision tomorrow and the continuation of an optimized plan that we can all be proud of.
If you are like me, it feels like 2021 is flying by. With the Fourth of July weekend having just passed, now is a good time to review this year’s southern Martin County discharges into the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. In order to do this, I am presenting a wonderful chart created by my brother, Todd Thurlow. It is one of the many, displayed “in easy to read fashion,” on his web-site under “live-data” EyeOnLakeO.
The image is best viewed large, but I’ll review first. Let’s look at how the chart is set up. Months are along the bottom and water amounts along the sides. We can easily see the green lines above 0. These lines show the times so far this year when the ACOE has been discharging from Lake Okeechobee. Blue lines show the surrounding basin runoff of the C-44 Canal. The red line displays S-308 Daily and the cream color shows S-308 Cumulative. S-308 is the structure at Lake Okeechobee; it can allow water to flow in two directions: from the lake into the canal, or from the canal into the lake. When the red line goes below 0 this means the water from the C-44 canal is going back into the lake. This is usually done for water supply reasons, is part of the historic lake operating schedule, and no matter when it’s done, is beneficial to the St Lucie.
My brother pointed out on Saturday, July 3, 2021, that the back flow was -3,344 cubic feet per second. This may have been occurring because the canals were being lowered for Tropical Storm Elsa. Todd notes “how different the weekend would have been with 3,344 cubic feet per second coming into the St Lucie River. All the weekend sandbar people would be flushed out with green brown water.”
Take a look at Todd’s chart, and hopefully you had a wonderful Fourth of July weekend.
Yesterday, Sunday, 6-27-21 -at 2:15 pm, my husband, Ed, took a flight over the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. In spite of significant local basin runoff, due to local rains, the river looked good.
Flying west -Lake Okeechobee at Port Mayaca showed no visible signs of algae from 1000 feet, however also on 6-27-21, Mike Connor, Indian RiverKeeper reported cyanobacteria within and around Port Mayaca’s S-308 gate; and on June 24, 2021, the Martin County Hearth Dept issued a BLUE-GREEN ALGAE BLOOM ALERT FOR THE WATERS NEAR PORT MAYACA. As expected, The Department of Environmental Protection reports Algae in Lake Okeechobee at this time.
The ACOE reports the lake is at 12.66 feet 6-28-21 and there have been no Lake O discharges since April 10, 2021. Thank God! We continue to advocate for the health of the St Lucie and its residents. #NoLakeO
Enjoy the Flight! Enjoy the Water in the SLR/IRL! Ed and I visited Boy Scout Island on Saturday and the water was beautiful. The way Martin County is supposed to be!
~Thank you Ed for being our Eye in the Sky since 2013~
-Sandbar St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon-Sailfish Point, Sailfish Flats and Sandbar. Seagrasses are few, but there. Hopefully they will grow back if there are no Lake O discharges this year. Photo below is from Boy Scout Iland boat trip very near the Sandbar on 6-26-21.-Another view-Area between Sewall’s and Sailfish Points-Sewall’s Point visible on left-St Lucie Inlet at Sailfish Point- various photos-Great shot of St Lucie Inlet State Park, Jupiter Island looking north to Sailfish Point, Hutchinson Island. Here opens St Lucie Inlet from confluence of St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon.-Ed taking a rare selfie! I think his first. “Thanks Ed!” 🙂-Lake Okeechobee at Port Mayaca, raining near Pahokee and south rim of lake. No visible algae but hard to see in this light. In any case, S-308 the gates at Port Mayaca are open only for water supply to agriculture and S-80 at St Lucie Locks and Dam remains closed thanks to the ACOE. Thus no Lake O water to the St Lucie. Hopefully they will remain closed for all 2021 and beyond!